Poyet a great influence - Oatway

by Adam Capper

Coach pays tribute to boss ahead of crunch game.

Ahead of Monday night’s Barclays Premier League game against West Ham, Sunderland first team coach Charlie Oatway has praised the effect that head coach Gus Poyet has had on the team since taking over in October.

Poyet found his side bottom of the Barclays Premier League table with just one point and has since amassed 24 points from his 22 games in charge, including two wins over local rivals Newcastle United and convincing victories against Manchester City and Fulham.

“We’ve got to think about how far we’ve come since the gaffer came in, we’ve taken leaps and bounds forwards in many ways and down many avenues, hence the good second half against Liverpool," said Oatway.

“We’ve had many other good days and clawed back several good points – we only had one point when we came here."

Oatway, who played under Poyet at Brighton, paid tribute to playing style and determination that the Uruguayan has implemented in the last few months.

“There’s a lot to build on since Gus has come in here because where we are as a club and how we play now; we’re getting an identity about how we play and set up.”

Connor Wickham was in the starting line-up for Wednesday night’s trip to Anfield and Oatway has praised the attitude of the striker, who will celebrate his 21st Birthday on the day of the West Ham game.

Wickham has had spells on loan with Sky Bet Championship clubs Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United this season but returned to Wearside last week.

“He’s signed to this football club and he’s our player but the kid wanted to go out and he wanted to play games so you have to take your hat off to him for wanting not just to sit here.

“The gaffer allowed that and now he’s come back because the manager feels that he might give us that little bit extra that we need to stay up so hopefully now he settles down and scores goals."

The Hammers held Sunderland to a 0-0 draw at Upton Park when the two sides met back in December and Oatway knows that the Black Cats must be ready for a tough test on Monday.

“You know they’re going to throw everything at you and that’s how Sam [Allardyce] wants his teams to play and he knows they won’t let him down which means it’s going to be difficult for us. We need to manage the ball, look after the ball and stamp our side of things on it.”